I am an English geek, as I'm sure many who have read this book are, and I absolutely loved this book! I received it as a gift years ago and I rememberI am an English geek, as I'm sure many who have read this book are, and I absolutely loved this book! I received it as a gift years ago and I remember starting it, but for some reason I didn't finish it. Truss has done an excellent job of clearly presenting the current state of punctuation and then simply explaining the rules of our punctuation marks. I'm sure to many this would seem like a book that they'd rather avoid, but Truss injects enough humor and simple examples to keep one entertained while learning.
Early on I actually found myself a little hopeless about the future of writing. So many English users are completely clueless when it comes to proper punctuation and tend to shrink back a little if it is ever brought up. But it is in punctuation that clarity comes. Sure, we understand underlying tones and meanings and spoken conversation, but people tend to forget that when you switch to writing, it is so much easier to be misunderstood. Punctuation, people, is your friend. It's the difference between cannibalism (Let's eat grandma!) and polite conversation (Let's eat, Grandma!). It's what keeps well-read pandas from arming themselves and randomly shooting after every meal (see the title).
Although this book was written some time ago, a comment she made is even more true now. In our current age of technology, every person who chooses to post a blog, tweet, update a status, or send an e-mail becomes a writer, and in the past writers had good friends called editors that caught their silly mistakes and saved them embarrassment when that piece of writing was seen by the world. Now, everyone needs an editor, and no, your computer is not good enough. Take responsibility and pick up this book. It's not guaranteed to save you from every snafu in written communication, but it will arm you with the knowledge you need to cut down on those mistakes significantly....more
For some reason, I wanted to read this book again, so I did and was able to finish it rather quickly. I still enjoy the story and the world that McKinFor some reason, I wanted to read this book again, so I did and was able to finish it rather quickly. I still enjoy the story and the world that McKinley created, but I found myself laughing sometimes at juvenile situations and how predictable it is. I guess that's what makes it a great YA fiction, though. ...more
Okay, here comes the not-so-great review of a book that so many people seem to really like. So, as I was reading this book, a two-word phrase kept popOkay, here comes the not-so-great review of a book that so many people seem to really like. So, as I was reading this book, a two-word phrase kept popping into my mind: dystopian lite. How, you ask, can I say that about a book whose whole premise is a battle to the death between a group of young people for food? Good question. I'm asking myself the same thing after having finished. How could Collins have messed that up so spectacularly? Perhaps writing this will bring me some answers.
First, Collins chose to write a book that comes after a long line of fine literature with similar concepts. I thought often of Lois Lowry's series which includes The Giver. I thought of of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau. Wishes of 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 also drifted through often. In these fine (in my opinion) works, the authors plunge you into a world that is foreign and yet familiar in some ways, worlds filled with the horrible realities of human nature gone awry. Perhaps that's the first reason that Collins fails in her attempt. The world of Panem and all of its districts are not brought to life in her writing. We get no sense of normal community life or what may have led to the good ol' US of A descending to such a place that brings a tradition of the Hunger Games.
Another huge failing is in her characters. I felt no connection whatsoever with any of them, and didn't feel that I was able to get to know them well. It's not impossible to bring a connection when using the first-person narrative, but Collins' use of it didn't even give me a good understanding of her narrator, Katniss. To be honest, I was hoping that Katniss would die to make it a little more interesting and put a twist on it, but no dice there. Not when you want to write a trilogy.
The final main failing that I see is in Collins' writing overall, particularly in creating a mood. I have read short stories that do a better job of establishing a feeling of dread. One in particular that came to my mind was The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell. I can still remember this story that I read in the 9th grade about a madman who brings people to his island for his hunting pleasure and the horror I felt in reading about a man who had no problems with killing other humans for sport. Perhaps Collins should have taken some notes from even Lemony Snicket who wrote The Series of Unfortunate Events. I only read one of those books and was turned off by how dark it was. Recently, just before I started the book in fact, someone mentioned to me that they felt that The Hunger Games was dark. Uh, no. Again, I expected to feel horrified by what I would read. These are kids forced to kill each other for crying out loud. But Collins figured out some way to sanitize it and make me feel like an emotionless observer. Maybe that makes me like the residents of The Capitol, but there it is.
As a former teacher, I'm saddened by a lot of popular young adult literature and am always glad to find a gem. Young adults are smart. They need to be challenged, need to be forced to ask themselves tough questions. All that great literature that I mentioned earlier does just that. Those books make you think, make you want to do something so that our society doesn't descend into that kind of world. Collins had a huge opportunity here and squandered it on quick action sequences and a flimsy love story. Too bad for her readers....more